Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is Amazon Publishing Books Now?

Question from the e-mail Elizabeth Eagan-Cox asked:

Recently, a neighbor who received an Amazon Kindle for Christmas (he knows I'm an author and has purchased my books) asked me if I planned on having "Singles" on Kindle. which I will not bother you with because there is lots of fine print involved.

This caught me off guard, I’ve heard of "Singles" on Kindle/Amazon but I confess, I’m ignorant about "Singles" what they are and what it entails.
So… I went to Amazon and on a page of information about "Singles," it lists the criteria (see below)… and a whole lot more information,
Anyway, the criteria for "Singles" are listed below, I took it from Amazon and I have the long link printed below it.
At first glance, this seems like vanity publishing (an author can submit a manuscript directly to Amazon)… Is it?
Elizabeth Eagan-Cox

Kindle Singles Criteria
• Length: 5,000 to 30,000 words
• List price: $0.99 to $4.99
• Original work, not previously published in other formats or publications
• Self-contained work, not chapters excerpted from a longer work
• Not published on any public website in its entirety
• We are currently not accepting how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, or children's books.

Answer: Amazon is helping customers Self-Publish AND incidentally providing themselves with a list of "Bargain Books" to offer to Kindle readers at very low cost. Is this Self-Publishing??? Absolutely!

I will do another blog about this when I get time to explore the fine print a bit more. Meanwhile, here's what I think I know about it now. Amazon is definitely aiming for the "self-published" market here. That means the books receive no vetting, no editing, and have no publisher, so no one gets paid except the author, hence the low prices. Authors do any work that gets done and make all the money, and that sounds like a very good deal to most of them. They can write whatever they like, however they want to, no one says, "Hey, there's no such thing as a fit of 'peak,'" and they never get a return. There is a whole new movement within authors' groups encouraging them to "keep control of the product" rather than seeking (and sharing earnings with) ANY publisher.

Some Self-Published Authors, like J. R. Rain who knows how to exploit the system, are doing Very Well with this. And not just with amazon. You'll find their books on most distributor sites. They spend many hours uploading all the books to sales outlets and tracking sales, a job publishers mostly do for you, and so on. They are very well informed about Internet technology.

But for self-published authors, who don't have Rain's techno-saavy, many will opt for the one outlet. Most of the other books listed this way are crap. A good many people are tiring of the "low priced book" phenomenon already (See Newton Love's Facebook comment yesterday. Newt, if you see this, you might want to post that comment again, here.)

Even "successful" self-published authors produce books where people "peak" at each other, look "threw" windows, and cut material with a "pear" of scissors. I have bought bargain books with all those errors in them and EVERY bargain book I've bought has many editing problems that will never be addressed. I laugh, but then I'm a stickler. Readers either don't know or don't care. Precision with words was once the pride of the publishing world. Sadly, I read a hard-cover Knopf-published book last week that had two errors that even spell-check should have caught. So much for paying proof-readers. Carelessness in such matters are, becoming the standard.

Some self-published authors, like Rain, are good story-tellers and know how to boost their visibility by setting the price at $0.00 for a week or weekend, then blasting the news on social media and offering prizes to fans who "share" the information." They tend to "go viral" and hit amazon's best-seller list while the price is nothing (sales are counted in number of downloads, not in earnings). Rain has thousands of downloads in a weekend and regularly tops amazon's best-seller lists. They also develop new fans that way. Some of them are good earners and actually make a living off e-book sales. One good ploy is to offer the first in a series free for a short time.

On the other hand, without publishers there is no one to "catch" any of the text and editing errors. Amazon certainly doesn't look at content and they will let anyone self-publish a book without even an ISBN. The only time they complain about content is when customers complain to them about the product.

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